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Equipping managers with the resilience to navigate change

Roffey Park 19th May 2015
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Faced with a changing landscape and rapid growth in demand and resources, Macmillan Cancer Support sought to equip middle managers with the influencing skills and personal resilience to deliver change and ensure operational excellence.

The challenge

Founded in 1911, Macmillan Cancer Support has grown to become the largest cancer care and support charity in the UK.

With the belief that no one should face cancer alone, the Macmillan team strives to reach and improve the lives of every one of those people affected by cancer, supporting them every step of the way with nurses and therapists who provide treatment, experts on the end of the phone, benefits advisers, online communities, volunteers, campaigners and fundraisers.

Against a backdrop of economic recession, NHS cuts, new technologies and rising cancer rates, Macmillan has faced increasing demand for its support, along with increasing competition amongst charities for public support.

Tiphaine Desreumaux, Learning and Organisational Development Adviser for Macmillan Cancer Support, explains, “In response to a changing landscape, Macmillan has more than doubled in size over the last five years. Organisational performance continues to be strong, but increasing demand for our support has led to a requirement for additional resources, new ways of working and organisational change.”

She continues, “Our growth has resulted in larger teams and departments and more ambitious plans, placing greater pressure on middle managers from business leaders and frontline care teams. Middle management deliver our frontline operations, they make things happen and are essential to service delivery. Equipping them with the resilience and confidence to deal with organisational challenges and change is critical.”

“Equipping managers with the resilience and confidence to deal with organisational challenges and change is critical.”

The solution

Macmillan offers a wide range of blended learning and development opportunities for staff at all levels.

Desreumaux says, “We had already been working with Roffey Park to design and deliver a personal effectiveness programme for senior managers across the organisation, specifically to enhance self awareness, emotional intelligence, resilience, influencing skills and personal impact. Due to its success, we decided to tailor the programme for a new audience; middle managers.”

Required to follow a rigorous tender process, Macmillan once again chose Roffey Park to partner with them. Desreumaux explains, “We already had a great relationship with Roffey Park. The existing programme was established and proven; Roffey Park had internal credibility amongst decision makers and participants. They also understood our organisation, the nature of change and the challenges we face.”

“In particular, Roffey Park encouraged us to focus on ‘resilience’, both personal and organisational, as a means to successfully deliver change and achieve our goals,” she says. “The Roffey Park programme supports our strategic priorities to maintain high performance, enhance employee engagement and support employee wellbeing.”

She continues, “We are a values-led organisation, one value being ‘we demand better’. This often means people ‘doing more, faster’. Our people
are naturally committed to our cause and going the extra mile, it’s our culture and ethos. But we need to care for the wellbeing of our employees, equipping them to be emotionally resilient so that they can balance the demands of being a manager in a large and growing organisation with their compassion, empathy and belief in our cause.”

“Roffey Park encouraged us to focus on ‘resilience’, both personal and organisational, as a means to successfully deliver change and achieve goals.”

The approach

Roffey Park worked closely with Macmillan to create the Personal Mastery and Strategic Influencing Programme, designed to enhance the effectiveness and resilience of middle managers.

Desreumaux explains, “The programme is about individual skills and helping people to reflect on who they are and what’s important to them. It helps managers to build personal resilience, strengthen relationships and increase confidence when having challenging conversations. Ultimately, managers become more agile, adopting a mindset that enables them to flex and adapt their behaviours and influence people across different situations and audiences.”

The programme requires a ten-day commitment from participants over one year. Content is tailored to personal objectives identified at the outset and evolves over time, in line with organisational priorities and growth.

The first of two modules, Personal Mastery and Resilience, brings an introspective approach to learning, requiring personal reflection and selfawareness. “Participants explore the four principles at the heart of personal resilience and some practical tools to build their ability to not only survive, but flourish through challenging times,” says Desreumaux.

The second module, Personal and Strategic Influence, is more practical in approach. Participants explore sources of power and influence and are given opportunities to practice influencing strategies and their ability to manage difficult conversations.

Learning is reinforced with ‘coaching trios’ between modules. Following the modular workshops, Action Learning Sets are set up by Roffey Park and facilitated internally, requiring participants to meet with peers from across the organisation over the following 6 to 8 months, to develop an invaluable support network and apply learning to everyday challenges.

The results

“The programme represents a substantial investment in management development, both in terms of budget and managers’ time spent away from operational duties, but we see it as worthwhile,” says Desreumaux.

Participants clearly value the impact the programme makes to personal effectiveness:

  • 90% of participants are very satisfied with the programme.
  • 84% feel the programme will significantly improve their performance in the workplace.
  • 92% describe the programme as highly challenging and supportive.

The longer-term impact on middle manager effectiveness is also clear:

  • 95% of participants state that the programme mostly, completely or exceeded their learning goals for the programme.
  • 84% report that the programme has had a significant or transformational impact on their personal resilience.
  • 89 % feel the programme has helped them in their role to a significant or transformational extent.
  • Almost one quarter (22%) of participants have subsequently been promoted to a more senior role.

Desreumaux adds, “Attending the programme also helps our people to connect with others across the organisation and share learning, experiences and create internal support networks. And, inspired by the Roffey Park programme, over two fifths (42%) of participants have subsequently joined the Macmillan mentoring programme.”

“Participants build their ability to not only survive, but flourish through challenging times.”

In summary

“There aren’t many organisations that run such a comprehensive personal influence and resilience programme for managers. We feel the investment is justified in terms of business impact and return on investment, at a critical time in our journey,” concludes Desreumaux.

“Personal influence and resilience are key to Macmillan people, helping them to exert influence and gain buy-in from stakeholders and partners from within and outside of the organisation and, ultimately, help to fulfill Macmillan’s purpose and legacy,” she says.